Congress Needs to Rein In Hate Radio

MSNBC host Ed Schultz recently interviewed talk radio consultant Holland Cooke and radio host Bill Press about hate speech and imbalance on talk radio shows. The rash of threatening incidents targeting Congressional lawmakers after passage of the health reform bill can be directly traced to the violent rhetoric being spewed over what I thought were our public airwaves. One has to wonder when Congress is going to do something about it. Millions of Americans are overdosing on a daily diet of anti-government, racist, sexist and homophobic ranting on the AM dial (and on cable television), with no alternative voices to cut through the bile. Media consolidation is the biggest culprit, and Congress and President Obama need to exercise anti-trust enforcement against the largest companies. With freedom of speech comes responsibility, but much of talk radio and cable television steps over into outright incitement. What is it going to take for Congress to step in and rein in the hatemongers? When someone gets hurt – or worse?

UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center has done a pilot study on hate speech in commercial talk radio, which you can visit here.